Revenge Bedtime Procrastination: what is it and how to overcome it?

When you think of procrastinating you probably imagine putting off a task that you either find boring, daunting, or simply don’t want to do.

A survey by Legal & General found that the activity we are most likely to put off doing is housework. This is closely followed by exercise, home repairs, dentistry, and finances.

The financial services company discovered that more than half of the UK (52%) feel that procrastination has impacted their lives – with the biggest impact being on their studies.

But it’s not just during the day that we procrastinate – it can also be when we go to bed.

What is revenge bedtime procrastination?

The phrase ‘revenge bedtime procrastination’ originated in China.  In June 2020, journalist Daphne K. Lee tweeted about what she described as a ‘very relatable term’ and explained it as ‘a phenomenon in which people who don’t have much control over their daytime life refuse to sleep early in order to regain some sense of freedom during late night hours.’

It likely started in this country due to the common 996 schedule – starting work at 9am and finishing at 9pm, six days a week.

The phrase itself may have originated in China but people across the world put off going to sleep for several reasons but not least because they are overworked and want to claim back some time during the night.

This doesn’t necessarily mean they are lying awake refusing to go to sleep but rather putting off bedtime altogether. Some may be trying to catch up on chores around the house that they couldn’t do during the day due to work. While others may be attempting to unwind by doing something they enjoy, which could be anything from watching TV to reading a book. Either way, that bedtime is getting later and later.

The Phillips Global Sleep Survey in 2019 found that worldwide, 62% of adults don’t get enough sleep and are averaging 6.8 hours a night.

It is recommended that we get eight of hours of sleep each night and constantly not getting enough can have a detrimental impact on health and wellbeing.

The NHS say that not only can lack of sleep put us in a bad mood, you are also at risk of obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes – as well as shortening our life expectancy.

How to overcome revenge bedtime procrastination?
So, how do you stop yourself from putting off bedtime every night? Well, first, you need to make changes to your lifestyle that will make going to sleep easier. You should also look at the ways you can claim back some time during the day so you can address the root cause of revenge bedtime procrastination.

Here’s a few ways you can do it:

  • Add breaks to your ‘to do’ list during the day – even if these are just 10 / 15 minutes, get away from the screen or your chores and take a moment to yourself.
  • Exercise during one of those breaks – whether that’s getting fresh air during a walk around the block or a short yoga class, you’ll feel much more refreshed afterwards.
  • Turn screens off an hour (or at least 30 minutes) before bedtime.
  • Set a bedtime and stick to it – perhaps make this slightly earlier than you plan to go to sleep. Then you can read a book or listen to music or a podcast, to help you unwind.
  • Write it down – whether that’s journaling your thoughts and feelings from the day or a ‘to do’ list for tomorrow, get it all out on paper, so you aren’t thinking about it anymore.

You may want to put off sleep to try and claim back some of your time, but it will only have a negative effect on you in the long-run. Getting enough sleep at night will make the days easier and far more manageable.

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